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The Communicators

News/Business. People who shape the digital future.

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00:30:00

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480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Michael Powell 7, Lynn Stanton 3, Us 3, New York 2, Nirvana 1, Smithereens 1, Ncta 1, Google 1, Pbs 1, Yankees 1, Uni 1, Go To C-span 1, Claire Danes 1, Procter & Gamble 1, Hbo 1, Metadata 1, Home Ranld 1, Parenthood 1, Rob Portman 1, Gene Sperling 1,
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  CSPAN    The Communicators    News/Business. People who  
   shape the digital future.  

    December 10, 2012
    8:00 - 8:30am EST  

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content vehicles tour, go to c-span.org/localcontent. >> you been watching booktv, 48 hours of book programming beginning saturday morning at 8 eastern through monday morning at 8 eastern. nonfiction books all weekend, every weekend right here on c-span2. >> coming up, "the communicators" with former fcc chairman michael powell. he's now head of the national cable and telecommunications association on the future of television. then white house economic adviser gene sperling and republican senator rob portman on deficit reduction and avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff. after that we're live with a discussion on the ha tee know vote -- latino vote in the 2012 presidential election and the prospects for changes to immigration policy. and later, the senate's back at 2 p.m. eastern for general speeches. later in the day members resume
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debate on a bill to temporarily extend the transaction account guarantee or t.a.d. program that provides limited insurance coverage for noninterest-bearing transaction accounts. a procedural vote on the measure is expected at 5:30 eastern. >> host: well, on "the communicators" we're doing a series looking at the future of tv, and this week we're pleased to have joining us the president and ceo of the national cable and telecommunications association, michael powell. mr. powell, thank you for being on "the communicators" again, we appreciate it. >> guest: my pleasure. >> host: if you would, put on your future glasses. >> guest: all right. [laughter] they're on. >> host: look ahead five years, ten years, twenty years. what's tv gonna look like, and especially what's the cable industry gone 2345 look like? >> guest: well, i think if i were answering that question, i would say follow the technological trends that are transforming all digital
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businesses. the first that i would probably observe is the dramatic shift from hardware to software-centric systems. the minute you are able to do more in software rather than proprietary hardware, i think the full creativity of software engineering comes into play. i think that's coming to television. right now if you ask the consumer what's the tv experience in my home, they'll talk about a box that sits on their credenza above their tv, they'll talk about a remote control, they'll talk about the things they don't like about that, to be perfectly candid. but increasingly, the functionings that those devices serve -- functions that those devices serve are going to be able to be migrated into software rather than proprietary hardware equipment, and i think you'll get faster innovation cycles. so a company can innovate the guide overnight. not over the course of a hardware replacement. and i think that when you do that, you start thinking about the other great trend that we've
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seen ushered in by mobile and the app environment. you'll be able to see little min wets of software that are or able to deliver kind of new and intriguing experiences, taking advantage of the premium content we love, but also with the powerful information pipe that we're able to marry with that. and i hope through creative minds that will combine to create really revolutionary, new kinds of television-watching experiences. >> host: jeff bukes of time warner recently predicted that most channels in a couple years will be like hbo; subscription-based, you'll be able to watch almost a la carte. >> guest: well, people say that -- >> host: he didn't say a la carte. >> guest: i don't think that he would. [laughter] you know, that means many different things to many different people. what it means, what it means which i think is correct is that people will have a very anytime, anywhere, any device kind of approach to their television
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experience. you know, my life as a child of appointment television when my show was on 7:30 and i'm angry with my mother because we're out shop, and if we don't get back in the next 20 minutes, i'm going to miss it. and i'm not going, by the way, to have any ability to catch up to it or see it again, i can remember that anxiety. when are we getting home to see my show? no child today has that experience, first of all, already. but the new dimension that's going to come into that is the devices, right? more than just the traditional set on the home, but the ability to get to all these other things which is why you see people talking about software and ip meaning if i can begin to speak the language of all computing devices, then i can begin to port my experience to all computing devices. and that will give the consumer dramatically more power to choose time, place and manner. you know, i love "homeland." i haven't seen sunday's episode yet. i've heard people talk about it. but i'm picking and choosing when i want to see it.
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i was busy last night, so i didn't watch it last night. redskins were on monday night, go skins, i much preferred to see this. but tonight, slower night, i might watch it tonight. and that's just what a dvr does for me. when you start to have the ability to command content more fully, as i think jeff's talking about, things will look a more like that. but what i will say is i don't necessarily agree with just as a tv watcher more than a policy analyst, i think people still love discovery. i don't mean just the channel, i mean the ability to find surprises. every month or every year i giggle a little bit about some show that people are suddenly talking about that i don't think you could have ever imagined choosing. okay? if you come to me and say, mike, i want you to choose honey boo boo or the show with the duck guy or certain food channel networks, i don't think that if i had to predetermine that was my preference, i would have ever
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picked them. but the ability to stumble on them or to hear people talking about them and let me go into an environment and go kind of dabbling around in that and suddenly find you know what? i sort of like honey boo boo and now i'm watching it, i stillty that's a huge part of the american television experience, and i think it gets sold short when we get sort of tech no ecstatic talking about anytime, anywhere, now. i do still think a lot of americans love the enjoyment of escapism and passivity and being able to just kind of roam around the tv jungle finding things today doesn't know were there. >> host: also joining us in our conversation is lynn stanton with telecommunications reports. >> the point you just made about discovery, how important a role do you think social media will play sort of intermeshing with your tv experience going down the road? >> guest: i think that's a great question because, um, if you think about social media the way i do, it's just conversation. it's has always been an --
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television has always been an k. it's not always ability that moment you're watching it and the credits roll on your favorite show, breaking bad, home ranld, you have an immediate emotional enjoyment. what do you really want to do? i want to pick up the phone and call my stir to see what she -- my sister to see what she thought about the final scene. i don't know about your offices, but in our offices one of the first things that happens at staff meetings is, hey, did you guys see so and so last night? the conversation is an enormous component of the full experience. and so i think social networking is a brilliant invention in the history of technological inventions in communication because it allows group-to-group communication in a really efficient way that other communication tools couldn't. so now i don't have to wait to call up my sister. i see her do it all the time. oh, post from linda. boy, i can't believe that claire danes did that, right?
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and that launches a conversation. i think most executives would say the social phenomenon is fueling the golden age of television, playing a very important and complementary role and providing new opportunities to make it even better. >> do you think people will be designing their own television experience through social media? you might have your friend, their facebook page or whatever the new facebook is in 10, 20 years -- >> guest: yeah, yeah. >> -- they're saying you should be watching honey boo boo and this, you know, dog championship show and this food show, and i've somehow managed to link them all up and, you know, just click on my page, and whether they're doing it through piracy or they're doing it through micropurchasing or they're doing it through this is the way, you know, programmers are suddenly seeing to connect to more viewers, and they're licensing through that with micro -- >> guest: yeah. yes, but some of it, i think, takes probably longer and is more complex than we think, and
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i also think we shouldn't assume lightly that all of that will be enjoyable to consumers. i do think sometimes you see a consumer backlash with i am being too intimately tracked, i am being too stalked, you know in the presidential election of 2012, i began to feel creepy, the degree to which political candidates with their big databases were hunting my every move. and you know what? at some point recommendation engines and stuff like that or your friends telling you to like something, you like. at some point i believe it crosses a dark chasm in which you feel a discomfort with the degree to which you're being watched and tracked. and i think that's part of what the privacy debate about, it's not so much just privacy, it's sort of where is the balance before you get to the creepy factor that you don't like. so metadata and big data will make that possible. what the consumer responds to, i
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think, is far from clear. and the last thing, they're already doing a version of that because nielsen and other data tells us a lot of people plop on the couch, they turn on the tv, and they open their ipad or their laptop. and they're having dual-screen experiences, and they're not watching the show, they are doing something that they find complementary to what they're doing. it may be christmas shopping, but it also may be when the show "24" was on, my favorite thing to do was watching the show while watching the "24" blog because there were so many hidden things happening in that show, it was really fun to have someone say did you notice jack bauer just fell 40 feet up the building, but he walked up three flights of stairs -- you know? these kind of funny elements you never would have known, and i found that enjoyable. my wife found it odd, but you'll see things like that. >> host: well, michael powell, with the tracking that you mentioned, when you look at the future of tv and advertising, what do you see? is the 30-second ad going away?
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is it -- are we going to see a new mode of advertising? >> guest: well, i think the present already answers that. the new mode of advertising is there. when i was talking a moment ago about the stalking, you're essentially talking about advertising. you're talking whatever the purpose is for, whether political purposes or selling a product, the ability to track and create a come composite of d a composite of my preferences and my travels through digital media certainly has created a form of advertising that has a high degree of metrics and specificity in a way that television advertising never did. i mean, television advertising is a great thing to a degree, but it's always been an odd thing, right? if you're procter & gamble, you run an add, it's very hard for you to know how much the ad works, you know? you ran it, some creative groups say you did a great job, you
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love the looks of it, then you run out and do consumer surveys to see if people were impacted. the internet provides much many or realtime answers to those kinds of returns on investment questions. and so i think you see advertisers chasing a lot of digital advertising because they learn more about the effectiveness of their messages. but don't count the tv ad as dead. i think the tv ad has to become more entertaining. and when it does, it's mini tv. i mean, i think it's hilarious that the super bowl is as much a parade of television advertising experiences as it is a football game. why? because that's the day that advertisers go for it all. they put their best-created, their most interesting ideas. what i think is happening is the super bowl is expanding into the air. if you really want me to buy doritos, okay, in july, you're going to have to start showing me stuff -- again, it's a really
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fragmented attention span that captures me like the super bowl. i think from an entertainment value, you've got to get my son whose world is so infected with media, right? how do you get out of that noise flow and get his anticipation? attention? humor, other things that go viral. you know, you've got to get him out of a big, cacophonous space. >> it sounds like you're still talking about mass media kinds of advertising, though, on television. >> guest: yeah. >> do you think maybe not in ten years, but in twenty years we'll reach a point where cable operators can serve up individually-targeted ads based on what shows they've been watching the way the internet can sort of track where you've been? >> guest: i think the short answer is there'll be no technical limitation to being able to do that. then it'll just be a behavioral
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decision whether to do that, if that's a relationship with your consumer that you're comfortable with or not. but think about it, that's exactly what happens on the web, right? if i go to amazon right now or if i go to cnn news.com or c-span.com and you do it exactly the same time, we very well may not see the exact advertising. if you go to aol.com, i guarantee you we will not see the same. so if you think about where's tv going, back to our first point, software, ip, metadata. the line between tv distribution and internet distribution becomes a lot fuzzier. what you're able to do in the internet model you certainly will be able to do even if the capable model is proprietary or private in some degree. the basic mechanisms will still be there. we could know, if it doesn't creep you out, what you're watching at the moment, who's doing the watching. you know, xbox has an
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application outta they're experimenting with which when you walk in the room its little system looks at your skeletal frame and knows that it's you and not your son. that's fascinating. but the minute you can do that, right? if my son's watching tv, tucked change what -- you could change what he sees. that's a simple step. i do think you'll get there. the question is in the dialogue between producers and consumers where's the comfort level in that relationship. and that's the more important point. >> it sounds like you're thinking more about that comfort level and that creepiness than maybe netflix is with this new push for this video privacy protection act approach that would allow them to get your permission once as a consumer -- >> guest: yeah. >> -- to share your information with, apparently, anybody, you know? it could be on facebook, i think is where their initial push is. but, you know, with your permission they could use it in ways that maybe people would find creepy, or maybe even the
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facebook thing would seem creepty. do you think there's something different about the cable culture that has you thinking about the creepiness factor? >> guest: yes. no, i like that question because sometimes you are where you came from. and, uni, there's a lot of -- you know, there's a lot of convergence going on in communication. what cable does and what facebook and google does is getting more like this than like this, right? but the reality is they come from very different foundational places. we have a very secure, trusted, um, expensive relationship with the consumer. we take your money, and we know that that momentum, you know, when you're at the point of sale, one, there's always a certain grumpiness about that. i'm the guy who asks you to send your money in today. i come into your home literally, physically i have a guy who comes into your home to install something. i have a relationship with you that depends on a really high degree of trust is so that you
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find that subscription worth paying every month. i have to protect your comfort with that relationship to a much greater degree than i think some of the tech companies have to. um, a lot of times, and i don't mean this disparagingly, you're very transactional on the internet. the internet at one point had a lot more experimentation with subscription-like models. when you have the subscription model, you have a trusted relationship with your customer. most of the internet has blown past that. we don't do rss feeds anymore to web pages. very few products are offered in subscription unless you're an incumbent news organization like new york times or something. most of it is just who lands here, for what purpose. i get paid if you purpose the click. -- if you push the click. i don't want get paid if you don't push the click. i don't really care -- i hate to say it this way, but at some level don't really care what you like what's there or not as long
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as you do the things that cause the monetary machine to turn over. and that's just a very different approach to the consumer than we're required to have, and i think we're a culture that's more conservative about that than those cultures. you know, mark zuckerberg who, you know, one of the country's great pioneers, i think he's made no secret. many of them come from a philosophical standpoint that information was meant to be free, it was meant to be available to all people all the time, and it's one of the reasons they're in this neverending, iterative battle with government forces about where the line is. because i think they're very comfortable that there is a very thin line. um, i understand the argument, but i don't know that that's going to comport with most people's views or not. >> host: michael powell, lynn stanton brought up micropurchasing earlier, and one of the current hit shows is downtown abbey. if people want to purchase that on amazon or via netflix,
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however, they can, and they can watch the series, and they don't have to have subscription tv. it's a pbs series, but you could do that with "homeland" or another one of these series. how is this ability to micropurchase going to effect the cable industry in the next five, ten years? >> guest: yeah. it's -- i'm not entirely sure, but i'll tell you some of the things we've seen already. you know, when this first started, when itunes first struck a deal with disney and others and people predicted the end of television or people predicted tivo was the end of television, people predicted, you know, dvr and skipping commercials -- what have we really seen? i think we've seen the appetite for television more dramatically stimulated, not retarded. it's actually the opposite. and i think it's because, you know, if i'm able -- you know, somebody comes to me today and says have you ever seen "breaking bad," my answer would be, no. oh, you really should see this
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show. i should? no, it's great. and by the way, what i'm really saying to you is you are my friend, and i want to talk to you about it. and what i can do now is i could go home tonight, i could go to itunes -- i don't know if that particular show is there or not, so forgive me the specifics -- but i could go, you know, to itunes or hulu or voodoo or roku or the network site itself sometimes, and i can catch up. and can go back to you tomorrow as my friend and say, you know what? you hear this conversation every day. i got through the first season over the christmas holiday. now we can talk. but, by the way, i'm dying for the fist episode of -- first episode of downtown abbey, right? totally knell love -- fell in love with the series. when i got tuned into it because everybody was talking about it, me and my wife sat dutifully and plowed through it, watched the
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second season because we wanted to be in the contemporaneous conversation. and by the way, it was so good, who wanted to go that long and not see it? and right now i'd give anything to have my hands on season three no matter what their timetable is. and i think that we often don't talk about the windows element of content, right? the key is everything now is available to everyone somewhere. really the only issue is when and for how much. if you want to wait, if you were willing to watch everything you want to watch 9-12 months later, you could watch everything without these platforms. certainly, most of the market -- but the thing is, i don't think we're that patient about it. the average viewer is that patient about it. why? because you don't get to be in the conversation. and you're underestimating the power of that conversation. and so certain marquee series,
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yes, you could go back. i don't meet a new friend and say have you never seen "the wire," right? it'll never run again. but if you let, if you let the sunset on your life and you did not watch one of the most brilliantly-written series in the history of television, i'll say shame on you. i know friends who go back and plow through five seasons. why? because the cultural references and the power of what happened there has made its way into, you know, what it means to be up on cultural things. so depends on the show. there's some shows, i guarantee you, my wife loves. if two weeks go by and i didn't see it, it's gone. i don't, i don't -- i'm not going to go back. i love parenthood, for example, she loves parenthood, it's a great show. if i miss it two or three weeks in a row, i rarely would go back and pick it up. but other shows i couldn't possibly not. it's not a criticism on the show, it's just the nature of
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how i consume it. >> the cost of programming keeps rising for the members at ncta, especially sports programming. when do you think we reach a point where that driver starts to exceed the ability of the broad masses of people to pay for it? >> guest: yeah. yeah, i think this is the billion dollar question, and i would tell you that i think different leaders have different views about when that is. um, the one thing you can't really argue with, by the way, even if you were to concede that all sides are being rational. for example, i don't think you necessarily have to make anybody a villain to have this conversation factually. but if you just took -- [inaudible] by other programming costs, you look at their rise over time, and you look at the rise in subscription revenue growth over time and you see this happening. and you see this happening for the foreseeable future. maybe that, and the operator has
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very little choice but to either absorb -- which they have been doing to some degree -- or pass on to consumers who are still recovering from a painful recession, first and foremost. is there a point at which they say i can't handle it anymore, there's no more ability to absorb these costs, and the whole model has a problem? i can't control that the nfl has the power to demand a 73% increase for monday night football which i find astonishingly insane. >> right. >> guest: i can't believe alex rodriguez makes $250 million a year to play baseball, but he does. and by the way, there are enough americans with an intensity of passion about these things, you know, you go to new york, i got yankee family members who would pay half their mortgage to go see the yankees in the world series. it's just a reality of the of value of a lot of content that gets pushed through the system. but we all ought to wake up and
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be careful, i think, programmers and operators about how we manage our relationship with each other and out of a fiduciary respondent to the consumer -- responsibility to the consumer so we don't blow this into smithereens at some point and invite the government to come do it for you which i think nobody would be a winner. >> host: michael powell, scott -- [inaudible] hope i pronounced that correctly, vice president agencies coe, predictions on the future of tv. number one, channels will go away, remotes will o go away, and we will have screens everywhere. what's your reaction to those predictions, and how does that affect the current cable business model? >> guest: hmm. we will have screens everywhere. i'm not so sure we don't already have screens everywhere. you know, you go -- you know, the typical american household till has three tvs -- still has three tvs and probably growing. you know, when i walk to work in
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the morning, there are video screens on the sides of of bus terminals, they're in metro centers, so we'll see them more and more. that's an easy one to subscribe to. i don't know what it means to say there are no channels, because i'm not sure i do agree with that, because i'm not sure i know what he means. but any system of curated content requires some organizational ski ma, right? you don't go home and take your kitchen drawer and throw all the stuff in a big basket. you put your knives in a folder, and you put your spoons -- i hope, maybe you have one of these where you just -- but, you know, organization, cure ration is itself an art. and, you know, the idea that just mashed-up cacophony is a virtue i don't agree with. i mean, i think, actually, we have lost the art of curation in some of our zeal around the
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internet. i always say in the way i say the friends and families about photos. you know, in my adult life i can take, i've probably taken hundreds of thousands of pictures in a way that i couldn't have on previous technology; digital cameras, cell phones, all this stuff. sometimes we unload them to the computer, increasingly we don't. um, i go and look at my i photo account, there are thousands of pictures there. they increasingly make no sense to me. i'll tell you what, when i'm 80 years old and sitting on the couch and want to look back over the meaning of my life, it isn't going to be to open up a computer and plow through 14,000 photographs. it's going to be the specialness of opening an album that someone has carefully selected the representative moments of when i was 7 and 12 and when my mother took me to the zoo, you know? that's where humans derive
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meaning. and i think the art of curat irks on and editorial discretion is still worth fighting for. because i don't believe like sort of the technoorgasmic view was that massive amounts of informs is nirvana -- information is nirvana. i do think people want simplicity, and i think they want some control that has meaning for them. now, television through channels is able to kind of parochially separate are you in the mood for history tonight? i can tell you where to go to do that. are you in the mood to learn how to make christmas dinner tonight? i can tell you where to go to do that. some version of that whether it's the traditional channeling, i think, has to exist. on the remote control, i'll be the first one to like to throw mine. but that's right because what he really means, i think, is that we'll interface differently. but we will still have to interface. it's still a machine, and you're
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a human being. and until somehow we're exactly the same thing -- which i don't have any hope for -- i have to communicate my needs to this device. i'm either going to have to touch it, speak to it, push a button, do something. so that will be the remote control, whether -- it's not going to be what you see today. but there is going to be some mechanism by which i talk to a machine, and a machine understands me. >> host: and we've been talking about the future of television with michael paul, president and ceo of the national -- michael powell. lynn stanton senior editor at "telecommunications reports," thank you both. >> thank you. >> "the communicators" also airs each monday night. if you missed any of this program with ncta president michael powell on the future of television, you can catch "the communicators" again tonight, 8 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. and you can also